Gun Law History in the United States and Second Amendment Rights

by Robert J. Spitzer

May 15, 2017

The plethora of early gun laws herein described establish their prolific existence, but also validate the argument that gun rules and gun rights are by no means at odds. If the Supreme Court was indeed serious in saying that the provenance of gun regulations is relevant to the evaluation of contemporary laws, then this examination advances the Court's stated objective. The common notions that gun laws are largely a function of modern, industrial (or postindustrial) America, that gun laws are incompatible with American history and its practices or values, and that gun laws fundamentally collide with American legal traditions or individual rights, are all patently false. Following this introduction in part I, part II establishes that gun laws are as old as the nation. Part III summarizes the different categories into which early gun laws are categorized, and the frequency distributions within each category divided into time periods from 1607 to 1934. Part IV examines illustrative laws within each category and considers their nature and consequences. Part V offers a brief conclusion.

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